Tea production in Assam's Brahmaputra Valley drops

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on February 20, 2011

Women workers with their baskets on their way to the factory after plucking tea leaves in the outskirts of Guwahati, Assam. (File photo): Ritu Raj Konwar   -  Business Line

Tea production in Assam's Brahmaputra Valley (i.e. excluding Barak Valley) recorded a drop of 16 million kg (mkg) in 2010 at 429 mkg as compared with to 445 mkg in 2009, according to Mr R.K. Gogoi, Chairman of Assam Branch of Indian Tea Association (ABITA).

Addressing the 121st annual general meeting of ABITA held at Dibrugarh on Saturday, Mr Gogoi attributed the drop to heavy rain in early plucking season resulting in pest manifestation particularly in Upper Assam.

The lower availability of exportable crop also contributed to the decline in exports through the Amingaon inland container depot (ICD) — 21 mkg in 2010 as compared with 25 mkg in the previous year, he said.

However, there was a record average price realisation of Rs 113 a kg at Guwahati tea auction during the period, he said.

Emphasising the need for reducing the cost of production at the grass-root level, Mr Gogoi urged the State Government to do something to reduce the social cost estimated at Rs 9 per kg of tea produced in the State, which was eroding the competitiveness of Assam tea in the international market.

He, however, conceded that National Rural Health Mission and Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan Partnership supported by the State Government had partially helped the tea industry in this regard.

The climate change and the shortage of labour were other challenges facing tea growers in Assam, he said.

With a total production of 480 mkg, out of a total of 977 mkg (2010), Assam accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the country's total production and the State's 170-year old tea industry employed over one million people, with around 50 per cent of the workforce being women, he added.

Air Marshal P.K. Barbora (Retd), Chief Guest at the AGM, gave away the ABITA Family Welfare Awards to the best performing tea estate hospitals in three zones under ABITA. Mr A.K. Bhargava, Additional Vice-Chairman of ITA and also Managing Director of Apeejay Tea, as well as members of the planting community and all sister associations of Assam Valley CCPA (Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations) were present.

Published on February 20, 2011

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